Browsing: Lighting

Brightness and color temperature.

My Experience with Butterflies

The butterflies that I stop and look at are usually very large and made of grid cloth. Here’s what I use overhead in daylight exteriors, and when. Making actors look good outdoors can be really difficult. When possible I try…

An Interior Lit with Two Lights, Part 2

In my last article I wrote about lighting a dramatic library scene using only two lights. Here’s how I lit a rich, dreamy bar scene using the same two lights. Bay Area dot-coms are big on creature comforts. I shot…

What Firelight and Windows Have in Common

Firelight and window light have a lot in common. They both require multiple light sources to look convincing. Here are my favorite tricks for reproducing both. I first learned the “strips of multicolored gels waved in front of a light” firelight trick in film school, and I never found it very convincing. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to use flame bars, and I know there are ways to emulate firelight using multiple china balls with different gels on them. My favorite technique came about by simply staring into a fireplace for a while.

The Joys of Lighting Flat

There’s one place in every set that’s never going to be seen, and that’s directly behind the camera. Light from this direction is generally considered uninteresting but if you have a nuanced eye you can create some really interesting looks by putting a light in the one spot that every film school teaches students to avoid.

Lighting direction is important, but so is the size of the source. A small non-diffused light placed directly behind the camera is generally doesn’t work well because it makes people and things look obviously lit. There are situations where this kind of lighting does work–we see it all the time in older movies when a female star has to look her best–but for modern work it feels a bit forced.

Relaying Light: Using Diffusion to “Fix” Natural Light

Diffusion doesn’t just soften light; it relays light. Here’s how I used a large piece of dense diffusion to light the inside of a car and hide the little known fact that the sun moves.

This spot was the first in a series of six that I shot two years ago for OnLive, a company that specializes in streaming gameplay over the Internet. They went through some rough times but now they’re back and they’ve decided to release these spots as part of a new ad campaign.

My lighting budget had to cover the needs of all six spots over five days, so I had to build an equipment package that worked for everything. This car was the only location that would normally have required some big lights to balance a dark car interior with a day-lit exterior and keep the quality and direction of light consistent over time, but we didn’t have the money for a generator and a couple of large HMIs. Fortunately I had two tricks up my sleeve: an Arri Alexa and a 12’x12′ frame of full grid cloth.